Archive for November, 2015

Stephen O’Malley from SUNN O))) guest hosts BBC 6 Music’s Freak Zone this Sunday (22nd November) from 8-10pm.

SOMA takes over the air waves with a playlist of artists programmed by Sunn O))) who play Le Guess Who? festival the same weekend in Utrecht, Netherlands. Expect your Sunday sonic palette to include fellow Le Guess Who? Performers – who were personally chosen to perform by Sunn O))) – such as the legendary Annette Peacock and bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin, in addition to the the likes of Southern Lord  heavyweights Goatsnake and BIG|BRAVE; two bands who have both seen new releases this year.

But that’s not all – SUNN O))) will also be sharing an exclusive track from Sunn O)))’s highly anticipated forthcoming album Kannon, due for release December 4th via Southern Lord. Pre-orders are now available via the SUNN O))) store, the Southern Lord store, including the European store and via bandcamp. A limited number of white vinyl LPs will also be available at participating Record Store Day outlets Black Friday, November 27th.

And remember, even if you find yourself at Le Guess Who? you can still listen live to SOMA’s playlist for 30 days afterwards at the BBC website.

Finally, here’s recent live footage of SUNN O))) in Berlin courtesy of Boiler Room. We strongly recommend it.

 

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Smith Research – SRV 21

Christopher Nosnibor

This limited release – one of just 100 pressed – isn’t for sale, according to the Ceramic Hobs’ Facebook page: ‘The distribution of this recording is very special. It is not available for sale. No enquiries regarding it will receive a reply. Attempts to exchange money for it will result in your death. This is not a joke. You will be contacted individually at our discretion. We will watch eBay and discogs resales very closely. Attempts to sell what you received for free will also result in your death. Again, after thirty years, do you think we’re joking? We ask recipients kindly not share scans or photographs online of their individually made artwork in order to maintain the clandestine integrity of this operation.’

I’d just performed a selection of Rage Monologues as one of Sue Fox’s support acts at her book launch for The Viceral Tear, when a guy – who had previously ventured a question to the author about the connection between her publisher, Oneiros Books, and Creation Books.

Despite their credentials as ultra-avant-gardists, Ceramic Hobs demonstrate their ongoing non-conformity after some 30 years in existence with a pair of songs which are short, corresponding with the low-down, dirty lo-fi gritty punk rock they epitomise. And like the best punk rock, it’s not clean, pretty or overly concerned with melody or slick production values, favouring attitude – and even more attitude – over technique. And of course, it’s confrontational. 50 Shades of everything is all the rage (perhaps apart from my ’50 Shades of Shit’ e-book edition of This Book s Fucking Stupid), and while the dismal prose of EL James’ Twilight knock-off ‘mummyporn’ novels have spawned countless parodies and a lame softcore movie while supposedly spicing up the sex lives of middle England by introducing a dash of light simulation bondage, Ceramic Hobs with their connection to the industrial / power electronics scene were always more Sade than any pulp lit you’d find being marketed and available to purchase on the shelves of your local Tesco, ‘50 Shades of Snuff’

And so it is they serve up two slices of expletive-filled barrage of gnarliness. It’s like The Anti-Nowhere League covering GG Allin. Or maybe the other way round. And yes, it’s ace.

As for the flipside, what’s to say about DiscoMental’s take on ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’? A well-covered song, originally recorded by the Jackson 5 in 1971 and again by Michael Jackson alone in 1988 and by Gloria Gaynor in 1974, it also provided The Communards with one of their biggest hits in 1987. Popular it may be, but the truth is, it’s a fucking awful song. Needless to say, this version certainly won’t be a hit. It’s also utterly deranged, and while barely listenable, is far superior to any other version. A thumping rhythm produced by a primitive drum machine, simply programmed, pounds away to accompany gruff echo-drenched vocals. And that’s it The simplicity is its genius.

Since this record isn’t for sale, I shan’t recommend it, but if you happen to be offered a copy, take it.

Fancy a spot of raw but melodic punk rock with driving guitars and female vocals? We certainly do, and it doesn’t get much better than the second release from this London duo. Don’t just take our word for it: listen below.

Christopher Nosnibor

York, on a wet, windy night in November. The Ouse has breached once more, and it feels like the end of the world is nigh. Again. You’d expect northerners to be made of sterner stuff, but it seems the city’s gig goers have given in to the urge to hibernate, or otherwise trot out the wimpish ‘not on a school night’ line. It’s their loss, and it’s no doubt better for a band to play to a moderate, but enthusiastic crowd than to a larger indifferent one, and it does mean getting serves isn’t an issue (although deciding which beer to have is. It’s not ever venue that had half a dozen hand—pulled ales on at £3.40 a pint). And for me, given that Post War Glamour Girls have produced two of my favourite albums of the last three years, while proving themselves to be a consistently killer live band, missing this show was never an option.

Ahead of Leeds’ finest taking to the stage, relative newcomers to the York scene, Colour of Spring show us what they’ve got.

Now, it’s easy to knock ‘the kids’ for rehashing the music of my youth, but then, the very fabric of musical history is woven from the new generation raiding their parents’ collections. Replicating the sounds of the early 90s in 2015 isn’t really any different from bands in the early 90s ripping off Led Zeppelin or The Doors, or the whole Britpop explosion deriving from the first wave of British pop in the 60s. So, Colour of Spring are four gangly youths with a nice collection of beards, and who make jangling shoegaze. There’s a raggedness to their sound, and a tangible energy between the band members. ‘Sky’ is a perfectly poised recreation of a huge swathe of NME / Melody Maker / John Peel indie, and the last track of the set – which the bassist had to play without an A string – was nicely atmospheric and reminiscent of Slowdive, only with shouty vocals.

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Colour of Spring

It may be the night before their launch gig for album number two in their hometown of Leeds, but this is no warm-up show. Post War Glamour Girls don’t do warm-ups or have a B-game, and they don’t do convention. So instead of playing a large chunk of the new album and wrapping up with a couple of crowd-pleasing oldies, they fire off the set with a slightly sped-up rendition of ‘Little Land’ from their debut before serving up an unreleased track.

It’s around this point my notes taper out, and what notes I have are illegible. Granted, my handwriting’s pretty dismal at the best of times, but I feel I must stress that it’s not because I’m one of those music journalists who gets trolleyed and scrapes together a vague, impressionistic write up that I let it slide: the simple fact is I was too immersed in the performance to take down the set-list and annotate my observations in detail. But what’s every bit as striking as their magnificent hooks and the overall tightness is just how much Post War Glamour Girls are in constant transition. James Smith exudes discontent and an all-consuming drive to keep moving forwards. There’s a strong sense that they’re not doing this for the glory or the money, but through a compulsion that can’t be satisfied and won’t abate.

Guitarist James Thorpe, now long-haired and bearded, lofts his guitar to unleash squalls of feedback. His presence seems more prominent than previously, and provides a perfect counterpoint to Alice Scott’s unswerving focus on laying down relentlessly solid grooves.

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Post War Glamour Girls

The pairing of ‘Jazz Funerals’ and the thumping pop romp ‘Felonius Punk’ ratchets up the fury toward the end of the set, which at 40 minutes, is short, but they’re clearly keen adherents to the adage that you should always leave the crowd wanting more. They conclude with the slow-burning, multi-faceted, and multi-sectioned epic from Feeling Strange, ‘Cannonball Villages’, and finds Smith spewing vitriol as he paces in front of the stage while the band pour every last ounce of effort into a rousing finale.

PWGG

Post War Glamour Girls

I’ve already lost count of the number of times I’ve seen Post War Glamour Girls in the last four years, but they still elicit the same buzz of excitement as the first time I caught them. While I usually endeavour to maintain a sense of critical distance, sod it, they’re one of the best, most exciting and one of the few truly unique bands around, capable of evoking a vast array of emotions as well as a pure gut response. They’re still on tour. The new album is belting. Go and see them, hear them: you won’t regret it.

Monotype Records – monoLP017

Christopher Nosnibor

The relationship between nostalgia and kitsch is a strange and complex one, although it would be a justified premise that there is an element of synonymy. Every generation is nostalgic for its own bygone age, the appreciation of the less appealing aspects of that age only developing later. Not for nothing are phrases like ‘so bad it’s good’ commonplace: people know something is little short of tat, and it was tat at the time, but the past offers a comfort – or, moreover, an evocation of comfort – absent from the present, in which the future – uncertain, scary – looms large. Safer to retreat to the past, even the detritus of the past – than confront the future, in which the only absolute certainties are ageing and death. There is, of course, another almost predetermined certainty in the future as we now see it: the older we get, the further out of touch we will become, and just as the children of the 80s and 90s spent their youth showing their parents how to use remote controls and computers, so their children will in turn show them how to operate the latest household technologies. The future, stretching out, is a picture of an ever-increasing disconnection the now. And so, the past offers comfort, and familiarity, or at least the illusion thereof.

In light of the way we’ve adapt to existing in the postmodern world, and in context of the immense weight of verbiage devoted to extrapolating the theory and evolution of our present state, culturally and socially, it may be banal to remark that modern technologies have made it possible for today’s younger generations to develop an appreciation of the eras that predate their own. Nevertheless, it’s an important part of the context for the nostalgia boom of the 21st century. Collectively, we love nostalgia, because it calls to mind different, safer, simpler times – even if this in itself is a misrepresentation, symptomatic of the way history becomes revised through misremembrance. But what happens when the accepted versions of history are torn free of the mores of familiarity? For a start, we see those nostalgic features afresh, with new eyes.

Here, Krojc and Fischerle take the type of public service broadcasts and information recordings which have become popular sources of plunder for samplists in recent years (Public Service Broadcasting have forged a career from repurposing such material) and render them in a fashion which is antithetical to the vogueish nostalgia we’ve become accustomed to.

John, Betty and Stella attacks the notion that the past offers comfort, and certainly does not confirm to the kitsch recycling of late postmodernism. Whereas Public Service Broadcasting present their works in a knowing, overtly tongue in cheek and irritatingly faux-artsy manner, selecting source material that evokes a quaintness ideal for repurposing as nostalgia – ready-made nostalgia, with the bonus of inbuilt kitsch – Krojc and Fischerle render less obvious source material all the more unsettling by placing it against a difficult musical backdrop.

Moreover, Krojc and Fischerle don’t lift the material, but engage with it, taking it as a starting point and developing it. All is not as it seems: John, Betty and Stella is, in fact, a radio drama based on vintage tapes for learning English. The dialogue, such as it is, originates from textoob role plays from old vinyl. As such, they reconfigure the material, manipulating it, reshaping it, brutalising it. Cut up, sliced, spliced and collaged against howling solar winds, blasts of static, grumbling industrial noise and bloopy analogue electro weirdness , the effect is immediately jarring, disturbing even.

John, Betty and Stella shares a lineage with William S. Burroughs’ cut-ups, not least of all his audio works from the late 1950s and early 1960s. While not nearly as extreme as the material which featured on, for example, the Nothing Here Now But the Recordings album, the way in which Burroughs strove to ‘free’ words from the constraints of linguistic pre-programming bears an obvious parallel to Krojc and Fischerle’s work here.

The segment on ‘Modern art’ in ‘Figure Behind You’ features throbbing synthesised pulsations and crackling glitchtronica, which provide a dissonant backdrop to a sequence of surreal exchanges, which in turn typify the contents of the album as a whole: “What is this this? A tree?” “No, a man.” “A Man? Where are his legs?” It’s bizarre, and also somewhat comedic, and it’s the fact John, Betty and Stella offers a range of moods that makes it such an engaging listen. Elsewhere, exchanges between the characters of John and Stella take on unsettling aspects: “Stella, wait. Where are you going?” ‘Don’t stop me, John. Let me go!” This tense-sounding exchange takes place eastern-influenced drones snake over distorted rhythms, half exotic, half ominous.

At its best, surrealism has always had the capacity to provoke a sense of the unheimlich, and just as Freud suggested that it was psychologically more difficult to process something familiar, but different, incongruous, than something overtly mysterious or different, so John, Betty and Stella sees Krojc and Fischerle forge a work which closely resembles accessible, mass-market friendly commercial nostalgia, but isn’t it. In fact, it isn’t quite like anything else – and that’s by far the duo’s greatest achievement.

Krojck

Krojc / Fischerle – John, Betty and Stella Online

Baskaru – karu:38

Christopher Nosnibor

Whereas Whetham’s previous work has been preoccupied with geography, the specifics of location, his latest offering uses found sound and field recordings in a very different way. Rather than evoke particular places and experiences, What Matters is that it Matters conjures much vaguer, more abstract notions of place – or perhaps more accurately space, both external and internal.

In a world in which global digital networks render time, place and space subjective matters in many respects – geography is increasingly a state of mind – What Matters is that it Matters offers as much an exploration of a type of psychological topography and a physical one, and forges a sonic labyrinth which the listener’s mental processes amplify, consciously and otherwise.

The album sees Whetham explore forms and textures with haunting, atmospheric compositions. Waves of grainy sound gauze over trailing whistles and drones. And the crackle…. Once you’ve tuned into the surface noise, there’s no escaping it. Of course, this being a CD release, the crackle of interference that rises and falls and disrupts the smooth swell of gently turning drones isn’t real surface noise. It’s the evocation of surface noise. But this in itself is sufficient to trigger a sequence of association. The nostalgia for the vinyl age… as likely now to prompt reminiscences of listening to trip-hop releases which in turn evoke a bygone era, or otherwise provoking recollections of listening to your parent’s scratchy old vinyl and falling in love with the music of a previous generation. Equally, the crackle may call to mind a youth now long gone, and with it, a swell of disparate emotions, nostalgic and conflicting. You don’t hear these things: you feel them, in the pit of your stomach, trickling through your nervous system, twitching in the back of your mind.

I digress… but this is all about the digression, the fleeting idea that life past will forever hang in the air, occasionally needling the present time of the listener, whether welcome or not, whether invited or not. What matters is not the album per se, but the experience, the way in which it resonates: what matters is that it exists, and does resonate – almost subliminally – on a number of levels. What matters is that it’s personal, intimate, interior. It matters, and it matters a great deal.

Whetham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon Whetham Online

We love a chunky bassline here at Aural Aggravation. ‘Attention’, the new offering from Youthless grabbed ours (attention, that is) by virtue of a bassline to die for, coupled with some soaring vocals. If it’s in any way representative of their upcoming album, set for release early next year, then it’s going to be something special. Listen to it here: